Re: Future Tech Writer with Software Questions

Subject: Re: Future Tech Writer with Software Questions
From: Craig Lashley <clashley -at- mail -dot- usf -dot- edu>
To: Rick Lippincott <rjl6955 -at- gmail -dot- com>
Date: Sat, 27 Jun 2015 17:08:28 -0400

Thank you Rick for the feedback. Yes, I did have a secret clearance while
in the military but it is long expired. I have been out just over 10 years.
My MOS was entirely mechanical. It was all about how to operate machinery,
tear down components of machinery and rebuild. I also did all the loading
and unloading of weapons as well as preparing for launch. No matter what I
was doing I always had a book in my hand telling me how to do it. I was not
certified QA, but it played a huge role in my job. I was qualified
calibration and did something called weight test. It was ensuring all of
the weapons equipment was suitable for the weight requirements it was
suppose to handle. Post-military I worked for a company called Adtran,
which is what I refer to as a miniature Cisco Systems. I gained a lot of
manufacturing knowledge there, and a lot of MS Office. I have been
following STC online for awhile, but am not a member. I will take that into
consideration. Thank you for the reply and confidence booster.

Craig

On Sat, Jun 27, 2015 at 4:55 PM, Rick Lippincott <rjl6955 -at- gmail -dot- com> wrote:

> Craig:
>
> Been reading through the thread, I'll toss in a couple of other points
> that I think have been overlooked.
>
> First, you asked if it is worthwhile to get the licenses for
> FrameMaker and some of the other tools. While I agree with those who
> say that having a good writing sample is more important than having
> experience with the tools, let's be clear that the tool experience is
> useful too. Word is nice, but FrameMaker is one of the most commonly
> used writing tools in the profession. It doesn't get discussed as
> often on this forum, but then again I notice the most common context
> of Word discussions here is "How do I solve this problem?" So, yes, go
> for the student license while you can.
>
> I will get back to tools in a moment.
>
> I think you're going to find your best opportunities are going to be
> in the defense industry, and I base that not only on your Navy
> experience but also the guess that you've likely now have or recently
> have held a security clearance of at least Secret. If you have one
> that is current (or at least unexpired), this gives you a leg up on a
> lot of possible job openings. There's even a website out there that
> lists job openings that require clearances, and tech writing jobs are
> often on it.
>
> In addition to the big-name DoD contractors, you will find opportunity
> in organizations that include program office activity. Often the
> program offices have final control over manuals for specific systems.
> You may find yourself getting source data from the prime contractors,
> and turning it into the manuals. L-3, Jacobs, ManTech, Oasis, and
> Engility are all avenues of opportunity.
>
> You also understand things like the DoD system of QA on the manuals,
> which is an advantage. Don't know if you've discovered this yet, but
> the entire concept of validation/verification is virtually unknown in
> the commercial world. (Another common thread on this forum is "How do
> I get my SME's to give me good feedback?") I think there are two
> reasons for this. One is that simple staffing: you've got to have a
> writing team of at least ten people to support enough activity for one
> QA person dedicated to tech manual testing, you'll find that in most
> companies the tech writing staff is five or less.
>
> By the way, although it depends on your MOS, my guess is that you're
> going to find greater opportunity working on hardware manuals than
> software. There is a great need for writers who can do this. And,
> having done both, I think that hardware is way more fun.
>
> Now, back to tools. Because you're probably going to find your best
> opportunities in defense, what you really need to do is find out what
> tools are used there. Although it's been a couple of years since I
> last worked DoD systems, they were (and so far as I can tell still
> are) big on XML. Arbortext is (or at least was) the tool of choice.
>
> While I absolutely concur that having a writing sample is more
> important than having a software license, your best move is to
> leverage your experience working with DoD systems and requirements.
> Your background plus the certificate will beat someone with the same
> certificate and a stack of Adobe certifications.
>
> Finally, best thing you can do is network. This list is a good place,
> but being able to actually face to face meet people in the profession
> and mingle is also a good idea. You never know when you're going to
> connect with the person who knows a person who has a job opening just
> for you. As I've already managed to offend all the Word advocates and
> probably half the software writers as well, I might as well jump in
> whole hog. Join the STC (there is a student rate), find the local
> chapter, and go meet people. You will find a lot of good advice from
> the people there. Feel free to say "Some guy named Rick Lippincott
> from the New England Chapter told me to join." (Look at that, you've
> got a networking opportunity already.)
>
> Good luck! Feel free to contact me privately if you have questions.
>
> --Rick Lippincott
> "I explain things."
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Follow-Ups:

References:
Re: Future Tech Writer with Software Questions: From: Chris Morton
Re: Future Tech Writer with Software Questions: From: Tony Chung
Re: Future Tech Writer with Software Questions: From: Chris Morton
Re: Future Tech Writer with Software Questions: From: Rick Lippincott

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